In 2014-15, Madison Ballet may take an original production on tour for the very first time.
With sensual choreography by W. Earle Smith, a score composed by local rock musician Michael Massey and steampunk costumes by Karen Brown-Larimore, "Dracula" is a sexy, exciting new piece, one that Smith said is already drawing attention from arts centers in neighboring states.
"I think the appeal for this show is not only the subject matter, but also the fact that it's not your typical ballet," Smith said.
"Trying to sell 'Cinderella' or 'Coppelia' or any of those on the road, it's hard," he said. "Selling 'Dracula's' rock and roll is easier than selling 'Cinderella' by Prokofiev," which the ballet last staged in 2010.
The ballet has done small "run outs" to Spring Green, but this is the first time the company has considered taking something on tour. The ballet put those wheels in motion with an early September trip to the Arts Midwest Conference in Austin, Texas.
There, ballet general manager Gretchen Bourg pitched "Dracula" to arts presenters from mid-size cities like Lincoln, Neb., Bloomington, Ind., and Winona, Minn.
Smith could not confirm any set dates, but said the ballet has drawn interest from several centers. Arts venues typically announce their seasons in the spring, which is when any tour dates would come out.
There are several ways to sell "Dracula," Smith explained. He could offer the music and choreography to another company, which could either build the sets and costumes from scratch or rent them from the Madison Ballet.
It's very expensive to do it this way, Smith said. It could happen in several years if the ballet establishes a name for itself.
"I don't have the name recognition to choreograph a ballet and have people call me and go, 'Oh my god, we want to do your ballet,'" he said. "Touring it, it's a different business audience — it's presenters you have to get to purchase it."
To take the ballet on tour, Smith would try to get some of the same cast. That includes Matthew Linzer as the sinuous, androgynous title vampire and tiny, red-headed Marguerite (Molly) Luksik as bad girl Lucy, whose tomb scene after she grows fangs is a highlight of the ballet.
Jennifer Tierney, a delicate ballerina with a cool poise, and the earthier, more playful Rachelle Butler have both danced the role of Mina. And Brian Roethlisberger was more confident this fall as Jonathan Harker, the young solicitor whose journey to Transylvania starts the story.
Smith said to do two to four cities on a tour would be "phenomenal" and "huge for this organization."
"The audience loves it," he said. "I think it's going to come down to whether these theaters feel they can sell it to their public, that it would be a good offering to their community.
"It's accessible to a younger audience, but that's a hard audience to market to."